With the recent backlash against Apple for promoting poor work/life balance, and large tech companies ending their remote working policy I figured it might be timely to review my recent career move and the motivations behind it.
Up until 6 weeks ago I worked at a fantastic mature startup in Brisbane as their technical lead. It was a fantastic experience during which I produced some of the work that I am most proud of in my whole career to date. We went from a clunky outdated glorified proof-of-concept built by a fairly incompetent outsourced agency, to a completely rebuilt platform, infrastructure and team in less than 9 months. It was exciting, we were breaking new ground and innovating in an industry that was ripe for disruption. We had the backing of an Australian media powerhouse and monthly growth was on the up-and-up. So why leave?
Whilst I only live 25km from the office, the daily commute for my wife (who works a few kilometres away in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley) would take in excess of one hour each way. Luckily my kids daycare run’s a long operating day, and we would regularly drop them off before 7am and pick them up just after 6pm. That’s a long day whichever way you look at it, and unlike the creator of Pair, I do actually want to spend time with my kids in between quickly feeding, bathing and putting them to bed!
The rather cryptic opportunity to remotely join a Perth-based company as their Technical Director came my way, and the timing was serendipitous. It was a different type of role that I was doing, in a completely different industry and with a completely different tech stack, but the potential was incredible and was perfectly in tune with my work/life aspirations. A couple of Skype video chats and numerous phone calls later and the role was mine. Leaving iSeekplant was bittersweet, the founders were as sorry to see me go as I was to leave, but I felt that it was the right choice.
Fast-forward six weeks and I can confirm that it has been the right choice. I’m lucky to be fairly self-motivated when it comes to working from home, and we’ve been able to implement some additional team-working initiatives to alleviate the culture shock of going from a bustling open-plan office to my home office, but I guess the thing that I am still getting used to is the luxury of time.
Even though I still put in my solid 8 hours a day, I find myself just doing more of what I enjoy. I still get up early most mornings, but now it’s so I can take the dogs for a long walk rather than preparing for the morning commute. I now take my full hour lunch break, normally to hop on my bike and smash out 20km’s or so, because it’s easy to grab a quick shower before returning to my desk. I can pick up the kids from daycare, and they are no longer the last ones there waiting to be collected, and dinner time is no longer rushed. I even have more time at the weekends as I can smash out household chores such as laundry (which were traditionally left until the weekend) throughout the day while I’m grabbing a coffee.
None of this is a revelation - this is the cornerstone of the argument for remote working - but seeing it applied specifically and positively to my life is gratifying. I know that remote working isn’t for everyone - the motivation still needs to be there to actually work - but I’ve been lucky so far. At some point I’ll probably write something about my daily routine, and the tools and rituals we employ at work to bridge the gap with a geographically distributed workforce. For now I’m just going to enjoy the extra time I have gained every week, and focus on making this job the one where I produce the work that I am most proud of in my career.